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Drugs: Rehabilitation

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 10 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent estimate his Department has made of the number and proportion of people in each region who are not accessing the drug and alcohol treatment they require; and if he will make a statement. (251177)

It is the responsibility of primary care trusts (PCTs) and their partner agencies to estimate the level of need for drug and alcohol treatment services for their local population as part of the commissioning process. Data on those not accessing drug and/or alcohol treatment are not collected centrally.

In 2004 the Department commissioned the Alcohol Needs Assessment Research Project’s (ANARP) to measure the gap between the demand for and provision of specialist alcohol treatment services in England at a national and regional level.

ANARP research was conducted over a period of six months between September 2004 and February 2005, and as part of this work, ANARP estimated that around 5.6 per cent. (approximately 63,000) of the in-need alcohol dependent population were accessing alcohol treatment per year, although the new National Alcohol Treatment Monitoring System suggests that actual numbers may be higher than this. Since the Department published ANARP, in November 2005, action has been taken to improve access to treatment for those dependent on alcohol.

From April 2008, a new indicator became part of both National Health Service Vital Signs and the National Indicator Set for Local Area Agreements. This measures change in the rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions and is expected to encourage PCTs to invest in earlier identification of people who drink too much, leading to brief advice by general practitioners or other health care staff and, if necessary, referral to treatment. 99 PCTs and 76 local authorities have included this indicator as one of their local priorities, setting out local targets and plans for reducing alcohol related hospital admissions.

From November 2008, a new Alcohol Improvement Programme is providing practical support and guidance to the NHS including:

Regional Alcohol Managers to galvanise and support local action;

a new National Support Team for Alcohol, to provide strategic advice to areas that experience the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions;

an on-line Alcohol Learning Centre with training resources for practitioners and tools and guidance for planners and commissioners; and

20 early implementer PCTs in areas of high health inequalities are receiving funding and support to go further faster to reduce alcohol-related harms.